Learn how to iron on patches for shirts, jackets, pants, bags, hats, and so much more! This tutorial will show you how to iron patches as well as what to do when they don't stick. It will also answer some of your common questions about ironing patches.
How to Iron on Patches Tutorial
Ironing patches make your fabric-made items look unique, stylish, and personalized. You can also use them to cover up holes, discolorations, stains, and any imperfections. In the past, you need to sew these embellishments on the fabric, but nowadays, you can find iron-on varieties. Meaning you can attach them to fabric with the help of an iron.
Iron-on patches are easy to attach to a fabric, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need to take some precautions and follow the process recommended by most experts.
How Do Iron on Patches Work?
Iron on patches have a heat-activated adhesive on the back. When you place a iron over the patch, the heat will melt the glue, and it will stick to the fabric underneath. These patches work best when adhering to natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, or denim.
Here you can see the reverse side of the patch with the glue. It is a little hard to see in this photo, but the back with the glue is shiny when held to the light. Sew-on patches look similar but will not have adhesive on the back.
Best Fabric for Iron on Patches
When it comes to fabric for iron-on patches, the primary rule is to make sure the care instruction label on the fabric says you can iron the material. If not, then you’re better off using sew-in patches because you would end up damaging the fabric.
The best fabrics for iron on patches to adhere to are made from natural fabrics that are able to take high iron settings. Fabrics such as cotton, denim, and some polyesters are best.
Keep in mind that there are also fabric types that iron-on patches won’t attach to, such as waterproof fabric, vinyl silk, rayon, leather, and nylon. Iron-on patches are not suitable for delicate fabrics.
Supplies for Ironing Patches
Ironing a patch to attach it to the fabric would only require you to use a few items that you already have in your arsenal.
- Iron-on patch
- Iron or heat press
- Ironing board
- Pressing cloth or a piece of clean, white cloth or handkerchief. Parchment paper also works.
- Measuring tape to get the position correct.
Sew a Patch
If you have a fabric that can't be ironed, you will need to sew your patch. Learn how to sew a patch.
Types of Iron on Patches
Iron-on patches usually have shiny backing with a special adhesive that gets activated when exposed to heat. If you look at the back of an iron on patch, you will usually see the shiny adhesive underneath.
Iron-on patches can be called iron-on appliques and come in different forms. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Embroidered: Thick, stiff embroidery with a plastic-glue-like side (adhesive); best for ripped, stained, and discolored fabric. This is the most common type of iron-on patch and the most durable.
- Leather or PU Leather
- Woven Fabric
How to Iron on Patches Step by Step Instructions
Once you have all the items ready and in place, there are 6 general steps to follow when learning how to apply iron on patches. Always check if yours came with an iron patch instruction booklet.
How to Iron on Patches Steps:
- Prepare Your Iron and Fabric
- Position the Patch
- Place a Pressing Cloth or Paper
- Iron the Patch
- Remove the Iron and Check the Patch
- Flip, Repeat, and Done!
1. Prepare Your Iron and Fabric
The first step is to turn off the steamer function of your iron and remove any water or liquid in the reservoir.
Plug your iron and heat it up to the maximum temperature setting the specific fabric can withstand (as stated in the care instructions), especially if the patch is thick. Use the highest heat setting for your fabric to make sure the patch attaches well to the fabric.
Then, lay your fabric on the ironing board. If there are wrinkles and creases on the specific area where you plan to put the patch, it’s better to iron them out first.
2. Position the Patch
If your purpose of ironing a patch is to add personality and design to your fabric instead of covering up imperfections, you need to decide where to put the patch. If you plan to use multiple patches, make sure you have enough room for each patch.
Position the patch carefully in the area where you want to place it, with the adhesive facing down on the fabric. Make sure you position the patch flat, with no creases, and not crooked. Iron on patches can be difficult to pin due to the thick back.
3. Place a Pressing Cloth or Paper
Carefully place a piece of cloth or a sheet of paper on top of the patch, ensuring the patch doesn’t move. The cloth or paper will help protect your patch and fabric from the direct heat coming from the iron.
4. Iron the Patch Area
Place your iron over the pressing cloth or paper, taking care not to create any movement so that the patch stays put.
Slowly press the iron against the cloth or paper, applying as much pressure as possible but making sure you don’t move the iron. Hold it from 20 to 30 seconds with constant pressure or the recommended time. Some patches can be pressed for up to 60 seconds, so make sure you check the iron patch instructions. If you are confident that the patch won't move, you can use a small circular motion.
The high heat of the iron will melt the adhesive into the fabric.
5. Remove the Iron and Check the Patch
Remove the iron and let the cloth or paper and patch cool down. Then, remove the paper or cloth and check if you’ve successfully attached the patch to your fabric.
You want the patch’s edges laying completely on your fabric. If not, get a new piece of clean, white cloth or sheet of paper. Cover the patch again and iron it, as discussed in step 4. Remove the iron, and check if it has fused this time.
6. Flip, Repeat, and Done!
Although you’ve already successfully attached the iron-on patch, it’s better to flip your fabric and repeat the whole process on the other side.
If you have a transfer patch, ensure the patch has cooled down completely, about 10 minutes, before removing or peeling off the paper backing.
That’s it! You’re done! You can iron the whole fabric and then either keep it in your closet or storage cabinet or wear or use it immediately.
How to Fix Iron on Patches That Won’t Stick
You might have attached the iron-on patch securely, but after a few washes, it to starts come off. The simple reason is that the adhesive's strength becomes weaker.
Unfortunately, you can no longer re-attach the patch using the method discussed above since the special adhesive will no longer work. Fret not! There’s still a way to re-attach it.
Apart from the materials above, you also need an iron-on fabric adhesive that you can purchase in any arts and crafts, and big box stores.
Prepare the iron and fabric similar to the "how to iron patches on most fabric" process discussed above.
Next, apply just enough glue to the adhesive side of the patch. It’s also best to limit the amount of glue you place on the sides. Remember, once you apply pressure or press the iron on the patch, you also flatten the glue, pushing some of them to the sides. Then, just follow steps four to eight as above.
The other alternative to lifting corners is to sew around the patch edges with your sewing machine.
How to Iron on Patches FAQs
Do iron-on patches go on the inside or outside?
Embroidered types of iron-on patches are decorative and designed to go on the outside. The types of patches that go on the inside of garments are those for mending rips.
Can you use a steamer for iron-on patches?
You can't use a steamer or the steam function on your regular iron for iron on patches. The water and moisture stop the adhesive from melting and sticking successfully to your fabric.
How to use iron on patches for holes
Pull the edges of the rip or hole together first before you place the iron on patch on top. Once the adhesive has set, this will hold the edges together. For larger holes, you will need to put a piece of fabric underneath as a bottom layer. That way, the iron-on patch adhesive will have something to attach to. You don't want it attached to your ironing board.
Do you use water when ironing on a patch?
No, you never use water for iron-on patches, as the water affects the strength of the adhesive on the back. Use a dry and hot iron on a flat surface. Place a thin cloth over the patch as you iron. For best results, iron the back of the fabric at the end.
How to Iron on Patches - In Conclusion
Undoubtedly, a patch is among the best items discovered in the world of crafting or sewing. Not only does it enhance the look of a fabric-made item, but it also helps prolong the items’ quality by patching holes.
Iron-on patches might not stay in place as long as sew-in patches, but they are more convenient and easier to attach to most fabric materials. You won’t even need special skills! Just make sure you don’t skip reading the fabric care label and the iron-on patch instruction when accomplishing the task. After all, doing things with love and care always gives better results.
More Ironing Articles
Now you know how to iron patches, here are some more articles for you to read.
- Iron and Ironing Board
- Pressing Cloth
- Iron on Patch
- Turn off the steamer function of your iron and remove any water or liquid in the reservoir. Plug your iron and heat it up to the maximum temperature setting the specific fabric can withstand. Position the patch carefully in the area where you want to place it, with the adhesive facing down on the fabric.
- Carefully place a piece of cloth or a sheet of paper on top of the patch, ensuring the patch doesn’t move.
- Place your iron over the pressing cloth or paper, taking care not to create any movement so that the patch stays put. Hold for 15-20 seconds or the recommended time.
- Remove the pressing cloth once cooled. Iron the back of the fabric.
- Repeat for more patches.